TruckingIndustry.news

Truck Driver and Company Sued in Wal-Mart Employee Death

by Jana Ritter - Published: 5/13/2016

Last month, Wal-Mart employee Kenneth Steele was helping a truck driver back up in the store’s parking lot to unload and was fatally struck in the process. Now, the family is suing the truck driver and his employer, accusing them both of negligence. A similar incident occurred at a U.S. Steel plant nearly a year ago, however that truck driver was criminally charged with manslaughter.

                                                         Wal-Mart Employee Killed By Truck

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The tragic Wal-Mart incident occurred in Fort Wayne, Ind. on April 11, 2016. Kenneth Steele had been a longtime Wal-Mart employee who had picked up the part-time job after retiring years before. It was a Monday and Steele’s wife dropped him off at work at around 6:30 a.m. because he had wanted to go in early, knowing there were things that needed to be done. “He was dedicated. The man did whatever he could to help his job out,” said the family’s Pastor, Joe Gutierrez. But just hours into his shift, Steele’s family was contacted with the devastating news.

According to authorities, Steele had been helping a semi-truck driver back up near the garden center so that the trailer could be unloaded. Although investigators believe that Steele either fell or tripped as the semi was backing up, the family is blaming the truck driver for negligence in causing Steele’s death, as he was run over by the truck as it was backing up. Emergency crews were called to the store at around 8 a.m. and found the 79-year-old man on the ground in the parking lot between the semi and a forklift. He was pronounced dead at the scene and his death was ruled as blunt-force trauma.

                                                         Family sues truck driver and company

On Wednesday, Steele's estate sued the truck driver, Charles Smith and the trucking company, World Way Inc. The lawsuit was filed in Fort Wayne’s federal court and accuses both the company and the driver of negligence causing death. First, the estate accuses Smith of negligently failing to keep an eye out for pedestrians in the area and failing to make sure the area was clear of pedestrians before backing up. The court documents also state that he failed to make any sound or signal to indicate he was backing up. Secondly, the estate accuses Smith’s employer of putting “unqualified and/or reckless drivers” on the road and is seeking damages for his injuries and wrongful death. The suit claims that Steele suffered severe personal injuries, pain and wrongful death at the scene and that his surviving wife, Karen Steele, has been deprived of his care and affection.

The attorneys for the trucking company have not yet made any public statements since the news of the suit broke Thursday.


Daniel Kettlewell
Daniel Kettlewell
Actually if someone is behind you directing you while you back up YOU SHOULD NEVER BACK UP IF YOU CAN NOT SEE THAT PERSON. Everytime I am backing into a door and a receiver is spotting me I WILL come to a stop immediately if he steps out of my sight. YES unfortunately accidents to happen....and in a sence I would say they do have the option to sue......HOWEVER.....WAL-MART should also be included in the lawsuit for NOT PROPERLY training employees in the area of spotting trucks. And before anyone starts bashing me for my comment let me say that I have over 20 years and approximately 2 million miles on the road.......YES I have experience.
Chris Seiley
Chris Seiley
Absolutely perfect answer. Wal-Mart has part to blame in this. Never thought that. Sucks that many lives are ruined over such a simple thing that could've been prevented.
Johnnie Kingpin Wynne
Johnnie Kingpin Wynne
Agreed, if you can't see your spotter you should stop immediately
Kenny Harman
Kenny Harman
How many mirrors on a truck yep thats right 2 ok when backing up do you stare out one window at one mirrow no great answer so in the time it took you to check other side man trips open your minds most of this is walmart for not training people the proper distance to be away from said truck
Chris Seiley
Chris Seiley
It don't take more than a second to glance over to your passenger side mirror and see where you're at. A 70 year old man don't move that fast. Should've told him to steer clear or i even catch myself letting off the throttle when i look over. It's not complicated. Sure Wal-Mart has part to blame but not all.
Sue Domenico
Sue Domenico
Johnnie Kingpin Wynne I run into this a lot in Laredo. I stop they get mad. I can't see you truck doesn't move. It's sad I do feel bad for the driver. it could have been a split second
Brent Hedlund
Brent Hedlund
Any spotter I've had when backing, I always tell them if you can't see me in my mirror, I can't see you. I too stop when I lose sight of them. I'm not going to be responsible for the carelessness of others.
Dennis B. Huntley
Dennis B. Huntley
Perfect statement from someone who hasnt driven anything bigger than a Prius.
Daniel Kettlewell
Daniel Kettlewell
???? Dennis B. Huntley Got news for you......20 years hauling nothing but steel.....I have 2 million miles......and in the past three weeks I've had over 20 loads on my deck grossing 110,000# on EACH load......on a regular 5 axle truck. If you are talking about my post you just showed the world your ignorance.
Jeremy Winslow
Jeremy Winslow
sorry but the guy should not of been around the truck... the driver is at fault for backing with the guy near him
Michael Mathews
Michael Mathews
I don't let people back me up I don't trust people. I get out n look I'm not lazy n I blow the horn to alert people
James Stinson
James Stinson
I have 32 years and almost 6 million miles..
Chris Seiley
Chris Seiley
Dennis B. Huntley I've pulled Rocky mountain doubles, 50 ton belly dump, heavy equipment and been doing it since 2010. If i see a person step behind my trailer i stop. I don't have time to fill out police reports or to explain to the family why that person ain't coming home.
Jeff Smith
Jeff Smith
I drive truck too. And it's your responsibility to watch where your backing. If you use a spotter you should know where they are at.
Barbara Cameron
Barbara Cameron
I agree with your answer and less than a year on the road. We were taught in school if we lost sight of someone to stop till the person was found in a mirror
Anthony Dubois
Anthony Dubois
I'm not going to bash you. I do household for a living and 10 years ago I was backing into a dock and my wife was back there spotting me and for a split second I couldn't see her so I stopped and found out she tripped behind the trailer. If I didn't stop, no telling what would have happened
Daniel Kettlewell
Daniel Kettlewell
Wise man you are Anthony Dubois. We had a driver about 8 years ago that did accidentally run over his wife and killed her in a steel mill....sad.
Bill Hibberts
Bill Hibberts
Didn't they say the man was helping the truck driver back ,then the man should keep out of the way sorry for family but sounds like it was his own mistake
Daniel Kettlewell
Daniel Kettlewell
Sorry.....but that is COLD. Wal-Mart should be held accountable for not training employees in spotting......along with the driver for not making sure the man stayed in his line of sight.
Bill Hibberts
Bill Hibberts
I just believe that sometimes people need to be responsible for their own actions sounded like an accident with two people not doing their job correctly not just one person to blame
Michael Mathews
Michael Mathews
Sorry daniel but it's true. He shoulda known better than be be by the tires in case of falling.
Tony Lazzara
Tony Lazzara
I've driven semis for 35 yrs yeah their money grabbers but if you have a spotter you need to keep your eyes on him , or stop the truck if you can't see him,
Bill Hibberts
Bill Hibberts
Doing it for 47 yrs like I said both people were at fault driver should have been watching his spotter better spotter should have stayed in the clear very unfortunate accident driver and company don't need to be sued
Tim Scott
Tim Scott
Wal mart should get sued it was the wal mart employee who tripped,so apparently he/she wasn't following rules. If that person was doing what he/she was pose to it wouldn't had happened such as stay away from the loading door while driver is backing hell he can't see you,etc...... Its wal mart fault for having a unsafe loading area which cause a trip. Sue Wal Mart
Michael Szczechowski
Michael Szczechowski
Both parties are at fault one Wal-Mart don't train there employees what to do in helping back a truck up and two the driver should of never moved his truck cause he had no proper view of that person I will not move my truck if any one is behind me and or wants to spot me if your not in the front of my truck where I can see you I won't move it
Tommy Hasel
Tommy Hasel
Since when is a company responsible for "training " people common sense?
Alexandria Bullock Alex
Alexandria Bullock Alex
Never heard of Walmart giving drivers spotters. I have seen a driver back into a hole for over 30min and no one came out to help.
Daniel Kettlewell
Daniel Kettlewell
It was an outside delivery for lawn and garden from reading the article.....he wasn't trying to back into a dock.
Michael Mathews
Michael Mathews
So daniel. I make outside deliverys back in off roads n streets. I don't née anybody to guide me. You must be against truckers
Michael Smith
Michael Smith
They do it alot go to California most of there walmarts is in a mall
Daniel Kettlewell
Daniel Kettlewell
Michael Mathews you are a special kind of stupid aren't you?? Over 20 years and still hauling nothing but steel and you make a comment that I must be against truckers. Then again.....you are a door swinger......We wouldn't expect any less of you...LOL
Mike Wilhelm Sr
Mike Wilhelm Sr
No because people don't care they always try to beat the truck. This should be a lesson that truck drivers can't see all directions at once. I have had people do the same thing to me and pop out from back and wonder where they came from!
Adrian New
Adrian New
Come on ppl, it was a ACCIDENT!!! SUE SUE SUE, buncha damn money hungry entitled idiots! The driver already has to live with the fact he killed the person. All ppl see is $ signs when a accident happens.
Tom Lord
Tom Lord
Yes the family has against the driver and the trucking company. Not sure about walmart though. The deceased was trying to help out but was definitely acting outside the scope of his employment when he was killed. Had he asked a managers permission to help direct the truck he probably would have been denied due to the liability factor.
Brad Donovan
Brad Donovan
Sorry for the loss of life. This will be one of those cases that Wal Mart will be at X % at fault and the driver. Due to he or she didn't explain to the person to stay in site of his mirror.
Software Scripts
Software Scripts
Hell yeah!
Mandy Jo
Mandy Jo
As a professional truck driver, you are responsible for making sure you are CLEAR of objects or people before backing up! Regardless if you have a spotter! The driver of the rig should have never moved without seeing his "spotter".
Software Scripts
Software Scripts
:D
Jeremy Winslow
Jeremy Winslow
honestly the guy had no business being around the back of a backing truck.... at the same time you never back a truck around a Walmart store employee... they cannot walk and chew gum at the same time.
Gary Steffan
Gary Steffan
There is no need for a spotter at any walmart locations did you see the size of there unloading areas you have to be a retard if you can't back in there
Jim Sivil
Jim Sivil
Who the walks behind a truck backing up? Most trucks have labeled blind spots right on them for this reason here.
Kate Campbell
Kate Campbell
I suggest that family climb in a truck and see if they can spot a pedestrian. Pedestrians need to know where the trucks are and if they are backing up. If you are helping someone you can't get out of the mirrors. If they do they can't see you. Not everyone who backs up sounds the horn. I'm sorry the man died. I'm not sure where to place the blame.
Chris Seiley
Chris Seiley
But once the man was out of sight he should've hit the brakes. I'm no old timer but i have enough experience to know when to shut it the hell down.
Kate Campbell
Kate Campbell
I don't let people spot me. makes me nervous.
Chris Seiley
Chris Seiley
If i ever do i have him stand at least 10+ feet from the trailer or use a handheld cb. But i prefer figuring it out myself and not have anyone around.
Michael Mathews
Michael Mathews
Then shut down chris get off the road
James Stinson
James Stinson
If the employee was HELPING THE DRIVER, then it's not the drivers fault..
Software Scripts
Software Scripts
Thanks<3
Chris Seiley
Chris Seiley
I'm gonna get flack for this but in my opinion he should've stopped when he couldn't see the spotter. Or if the spotter was too close he should've gotten out and told him to stand clear. Shit happens i understand but that shouldn't be one of the things. Even when i was hauling cattle in my pickup and stock trailer if my dad ( which i never told to do anything except for that) was in the way I'd stop and give him a blank stare till he moved or hollered " clear the way there's a mad man driving". I don't care if the spotter says he feels safe. If I'm uncomfortable then ain't shit happening.
Tracey Adams
Tracey Adams
I deliver plants to Lowes and at some stores I do have to unload in the front and if someone helping me back up first I sound my horn and if I can't see them nomore in my mirror then I stop until I see them again!!!
Kirsten Rosseland
Kirsten Rosseland
If someone is helping me back up and they disappear from my mirrors, I'm stopping and getting out to see where he's at. People do stupid things and unfortunately we as professional drivers have the responsibility of thinking for them.
Pavel Cupceanu
Pavel Cupceanu
Many crazy people when they see the truck or personal car is baking up they're going slowly like the truck can not kill him
Mark Huff
Mark Huff
Don't you have to be able to back into a dock to pass your test?? Why does one need, or use a "spotter"? Get out and look.......
Tracey Adams
Tracey Adams
Did you read the story before you commented!!! Nope...
Mark Huff
Mark Huff
Tracey Adams yes I did read the article, and it is terrible that the man was killed in such an accident. I was referring to all of the other comments on backing into docks, not the article itself.
Donald Gough
Donald Gough
Driver fault. You have a spotter. .you need to know where he or she is at, all times. Soon as you loose sight, stop!! immediately. Tragic.. feel sory for the family. I have a million and half miles accident free. So I think I have a little experience. I've used spotters. And knew where they were at all times.
Michael Mathews
Michael Mathews
Both at fault. Guy who got hit is at fault be bring that close to the truck.
Software Scripts
Software Scripts
much needed comment!
Jeff Yoder
Jeff Yoder
If you have a spotter then you should NEVER back without being able to see the spotter. Thats why they are there!! Use common sense
Chris Seiley
Chris Seiley
Exactly. People saying it's the pedestrians job to watch. Sure they should but it's also the drivers job to know what to do when his spotter is in a blind spot. It ain't rocket surgery lol. My point to these people is if there ever comes a day ( Lord willing not) this exact situation happens to me I'll walk to the jail house and tell them lock me up cause i failed at my job and took a life.
Michael Mathews
Michael Mathews
Chris you always need a spotter. Get of ur ass n look you won't need one
Michael Mathews
Michael Mathews
You Everett drivers lay more trucks over on the I10 east ramp off I55 in Hamilton la than anybody I know
Joe Fick
Joe Fick
Sorry for the loss of his life but who was on the forklift and why was he between the trailer and a forklift. According to the article
Mark A Fitez
Mark A Fitez
Well commonsense tells you if you see somebody backing up the wall behind him always make eye contact when you walk in front of them but nobody ever does it so it doesn't surprise me I don't wish anybody getting killed but on the other hand
Jody Valvo
Jody Valvo
This is one of the reason we have insurance. So yes the insurance companies should pay out to the deceased family.
Phillip Cuthbertson
Phillip Cuthbertson
Yall sound like a bunch of Steering wheel holders. If you need a spotter you shouldn't be behind the wheel.
Dave Brendel
Dave Brendel
Ambulance chasing lawyers trying to make money don't stand behind a truck moron
Software Scripts
Software Scripts
I agree Amazing comment thanks
Randy Schaad
Randy Schaad
Never ever seen a walmart employee back anyone into a dock so this story is bull shit.
Daniel Kettlewell
Daniel Kettlewell
Who said he was backing into a dock?? From reading the article and the picture it looks to me like it was an outside unload for spring lawn and garden. (I am thinking the article even said it was a lawn & garden delivery) Wal-Mart does unload trucks outside....(including vans)...my son worked lawn & garden for a while at Wal-Mart
Randy Schaad
Randy Schaad
Walmart employees arent trained to back a truck up
Daniel Kettlewell
Daniel Kettlewell
YES....and Wal-Mart should be held accountable
Randy Schaad
Randy Schaad
Ok no talking to you jack know it all walmart should be held for everything that goes wrong in life I have a friend that drives for walmart
Michael Mathews
Michael Mathews
Daniel this is a trucker conversation not a steering wheel holder
Randy Schaad
Randy Schaad
Always some dumb fuck trying to get a pay day I bet Daniel Kettlewell looks for law suits.. and secretly sneaks into walmart and shops
Daniel Kettlewell
Daniel Kettlewell
Michael Mathews I have hauled steel for over 20 years......In the past 3 weeks alone In have had over 20 loads on my deck grossing atleast 110,000# on a regular 5 axle truck. You are a door swinger.....you obviously know shit about driving after reading all your other comments. ( you probably think that real truckers work for mileage pay, to ignorant to understand that it's smarter to work on percentage so that you actually get a raise as rates increase) You are ignorant enough to believe that the driver has no responsibility in this accident. STAY HOME.....You aren't intelligent enough to drive a truck.
Daniel Kettlewell
Daniel Kettlewell
Randy Schaad.....FYI....I don't sneak into Wal-Mart.....I'm PROUD to walk right in the front door. Stick to swinging doors, you like Michael Mathews aren't intelligent enough to haul any real freight.......You have both been owned.
Randy Schaad
Randy Schaad
Daniel your a real truck driving douche
Terry Perrott
Terry Perrott
When I was driving OTR & at all delivery or live loads if someone was going to give me help that was fine. BUT I WOULD TELL THAT PERSON & ONLY ONE PERSON TO STAY OFF TO THE DRIVER SIDE OUT OF THE WAY OF TRAILER SO I COULD SEE THEM & if they would happen to trip or fall I could see that & have to react to stop from posibly hitting or running them over. For one no one has any business being behind the trailer where the driver can't see them. Walmart needs to have a class on "Helping drivers backing up" . I'm sorry for the employer that lost there life,regards to the family.
Stephen Carr
Stephen Carr
Perhaps the driver should sue the spotters family and walmart. For spotter not being properly trained and taking task he is not properly trained in and causing the driver a life time of pain and suffering living with the death.
James Stinson
James Stinson
They all wanna blame the driver....ALWAYS .
Daniel Kettlewell
Daniel Kettlewell
Driver was at fault....he knew the guy was trying to spot him but he didn't make sure the guy was visable. Wal-Mart should also be at fault for failure to train employees.
James Stinson
James Stinson
The guy doing the guiding to spot the driver was responsible for making them self in plain view of the driver at all times. Further more, if they didn't have any experience helping a driver spot a trailer, then they had NO BUSINESS in that position. ..
James Stinson
James Stinson
It also is the drivers responsibility to tend to their own not following the directions of another. Still. Walmart has no grounds for lawsuit . The family of the person killed has all grounds for lawsuit against walmart for having an employee perform a job they are not qualified for.
James Stinson
James Stinson
Just like with myself. I can do anything to a truck mechanically you want me to do. I don't have certified hoirs of training so if dot sees me doing brake adjustable on the truck and I can't produce the hours of training card; it's $10,000 fine to me.
Daniel Kettlewell
Daniel Kettlewell
I never said Wal-Mart had any grounds for a suit. Wal-Mart should be included in the lawsuit ALONG with the driver. In other words the man's family should also be suing Wal-Mart for negligence
Phil Killerlain
Phil Killerlain
Yes and they will probably settle , instead of going to court .
Trucker Steven Stroup
Trucker Steven Stroup
I prefer for everyone to stay clear.
Tony Sr Ahlers
Tony Sr Ahlers
Sue happy a holes. If it was a car that hit him nothing would be said.
Dennis B. Huntley
Dennis B. Huntley
Best start making delivery sites where drivers don't have to back up.
Roy Sellers
Roy Sellers
Common sense.... Gone.... That is the same kinda fokes that would " attempt" to sue a zoo cause some idiot went swimming with the hippo orr polar bears... World gone crazy... It's always somebody else fault....
Frank Sullivan
Frank Sullivan
The answer to everything lawsuit imagine that
Tim Ryan
Tim Ryan
Right dirt bag trial lawyer that's all they need
Peter Doucette
Peter Doucette
I will always be in sight of the one I help.
David Schumacher
David Schumacher
Sue his family negligence. Should have been more carefully around equipment.
Mike Wilhelm Sr
Mike Wilhelm Sr
Now however if he was helping driver I totally agree with Daniel Kettlewell .
Bill Megan Baareman
Bill Megan Baareman
The bottom line is what happen to common sense??? Someone was probably lacking it ---
Christopher W. Bryant
Christopher W. Bryant
It's tragic but the family is trying to get rich
Mandy Brown
Mandy Brown
When you have a spotter you are still responsible if you hit something? Anyone confused?
Jason F Fletcher
Jason F Fletcher
Figures, go after the driver. ALWAYS BLAME THE DRIVER.
Michael Mathews
Michael Mathews
All about $$$$$$
Sally Wuestenberg
Sally Wuestenberg
How sad for everyone involved.
Kris Carter
Kris Carter
It won't hold in court.
Divanildo Quirino
Divanildo Quirino
Hope you all die no one cares
James McCreight
James McCreight
It was an accident.
Gary Emmons
Gary Emmons
Don't think so
Debra C. Walker
Debra C. Walker
Be careful
Beth Howells
Beth Howells
unreal
James R Maxwell
James R Maxwell
Jim
Software Scripts
Software Scripts
Interesting post thanks this is really good
Renee Williams
Renee Williams
Larry Thomas